Bicycles and Birds

One of the things I love about the Jesuit retreat house in Oshkosh is the availability of bicycles for the use of retreatants. Nothing fancy – just old-fashioned pedal-break bicycles; there is a stand of about 10 of them outside the main entrance of the retreat house to be used at will. I’ve taken one of them for a ride each morning I’ve been here thus far.

Although I have a bicycle at home, the area in the immediate vicinity of my house is pretty hilly, meaning my rides are more exercise than pure enjoyment, and there is a reasonably amount of vehicular traffic making it hard to relax into the ride.

Here, the roads surrounding the road outside the retreat house grounds is reasonably flat (i.e., a gentle incline) and there is very little traffic – most times I can do the length of the road out to a more “main” highway without seeing a car. That means that the ride is pure enjoyment and exhiliration – I love the feel of the wind on my face and the sound it makes as I whoosh by, and I can’t help but smile as God and I tear down the road together. It is nothing but pure fun. It feels a bit like flying.

Speaking of flying, the birds in this area are spectacular. I don’t know anything about birdwatching and beyond my ability to pick a NYC pigeon out of any lineup, I can identify very few birds. But that doesn’t matter. The variety and colors on these birds is amazing. Reds and blues the likes I’ve never seen. Yellows and more blacks than I thought existed. I look and simply marvel.

When I see birds of that beauty and variety, I have the same reaction I do when I see the beauty of different kinds of trees with their variety of color, leaves and so forth – it is impossible for me to not see the hand of God here. No impersonal principle of natuural selection could explain this array of beauty.

“The world is charged with the grandeur of God!”